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eins.plus- a hybrid electric tricycle sharing system by Peter Kutz

eins.plus- a hybrid electric tricycle by Peter KutzPeter Kutz is a product design student at the Weissensee School of Art in Berlin. For his thesis project, he designed a hybrid electric tricycle called “eins.plus” (one.plus). Similar to the Mando Footloose hybrid electric, Kutz’s concept features a pedal driven generator that powers dual motors located at the rear wheel hubs. Because the design does not have a traditional mechanical transmission, the rear cargo platform is positioned low to the ground for easier loading and unloading. Kutz also envisions that the lower platform can be used by standing passengers for short trips.  He points out that different modules could be added to the rear platform, such as a passenger seat or a pet carrier, to suit the trike for different purposes.

eins.plus- a hybrid electric tricycle by Peter KutzThe eins.plus e-trike was designed to be part of a sharing system, and Kutz envisions solar charging stations with induction plates in the ground to recharge the batteries wirelessly.  His station design fits in the dimensions of a standard car parking space, and can accommodate up to eleven tricycles.

eins.plus-trike-appThe trike’s on board computer  can sync with a user’s smart phone. With an app, the user could unlock the tricycle, plan a route, and lock the motor for security when they arrive at their location.

For more about the design and additional renderings, see the eins.plus project webpage. Kurtz also has put together a video that does a great job of documenting his design process.

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eins.plus solar charging station


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Two interesting bike documentaries in the works- The Outsider and Bicycle

If you are interested in bicycle design and innovation (and if you are reading this blog, most likely you are), there are two documentaries coming soon that you will definitely want to see.  First is ‘The Outsider : Graeme Obree’s story, in his own words’ by David Street of Journey Pictures, a project that  was successfully funded on Kickstarter a couple days ago. I have mentioned Obree on the blog several times, particularly in the run up to his speed record attempt at Battle Mountain this year. Like many others who followed cycling in the early 90s, I was fascinated by Obree’s  DIY approach to engineering the minute I saw his original “Old Faithful” track bike. I have great respect for him as an athlete, and more importantly as a designer/problem solver, so I can’t wait to see this film when it is released in the summer of 2014. The first promo video for the film can be seen in the embedded link above. See the Journey Pictures website, and David Street’s personal Vimeo page for more.

Mike Burrows is another bike designer whom I greatly admire (and have often mentioned here at Bicycle Design), so I was happy to see him featured in a promo video for another UK based documentary project titled ‘Bicycle The Film’. You can see Burrows discussing innovation (or lack thereof) in cycling the video above, and check out the website, Facebook page, and Twitter account, to learn more about the project. They also have an  Indiegogo campaign underway to raise money, so take a look, and help them out if you are so inclined.


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A couple of bike products years in the making

Sandwichbike

It has been more than seven years since I posted about the sandwich bike prototype, designed by Bleijh Industrial Design, after it was spotted at the 2006 Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.  It took a little time, but that concept is now in production as a flat pack bike that can be assembled at home in half an hour (using tools that are included in the box). The Sandwichbike was officially launched with a party in Amsterdam a couple of days ago, and the bikes are now shipping within Europe (and will ship worldwide next month). Read more at Dezeen and on the Sandwichbikes website.

Sandwichbike-packaging

The Copenhagen Wheel starting making the design blog rounds in 2009, right after its debut at the COP15 climate Summit in… you guessed it… Copenhagen. That product, which uses energy recovered from regenerative braking to transform most any bike into an electric assist hybrid, began selling today in a single speed version.  Additional sizes and a multispeed version are coming as a CNET article today points out:

“The 12-pound Copenhagen Wheel is available for $699 in a single-gear configuration, but it’ll cost more for those who want to slip on a cassette with multiple gears. The first 1,000 of them are being hand-built now and will be available for mountain bike and road bike wheel sizes.”

Copenhagen-Wheel

Photo credit: Superpedestrian/Michael D Spencer

It is more than just a bolt on electric wheel though, with smart features that CNET goes on to explain:

“The technology also includes a mobile app that lets people adjust settings and monitor fitness statistics such as elevation gained and calories burned. In addition, the wheel can automatically lock itself when its owner leaves and unlock when its owner returns.”

It is great to see both of these products hitting the market after several years of development. I could go on and include others that are resurfacing years after the initial buzz, like the Hövding airbag helmet or the LightLane virtual path (which started as a competition entry on this blog). Even the Cerevellum rearview device, which I first tried as a rough prototype in 2008, is back and looking for funding on Kickstarter to add new features like GPS functionality and ANT+ compatibility. Many of the concepts that have been posted here at Bicycle Design over the years never made it past that initial concept stage. They may have inspired someone else or sparked a new idea, but many of them were simply design concepts. It’s good to point out a few different ideas from outside the bike industry that have made it all the way through the development process though. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think it is a trend that we will continue to see.

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Sandwichbike prototype from 2006


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“Design Behind the Bike” videos from The Open University

I mentioned The Open University’s “Design Behind the Bike” videos on Twitter last week, but the five part series is quite interesting and really deserves a post of it’s own. You can watch the first video in the series, History, in the frame above. Links to the other videos can be found here:

As I am slowly returning to updating this blog, expect to see a greater frequency of short posts like this one. More short posts won’t mean that longer ones with more thought and commentary will disappear completely, but I will be trying to find a balance over the coming months. As always, reader feedback is encouraged. Let me know the types of posts that you like to see here…what has worked in the past, and what hasn’t. Your feedback will make the blog better in the coming year, so let me know what you like to see at Bicycle Design.

 

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Taking a break from the blog

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A shot from the Bike Hugger mobile social at Interbike a few years ago. Good times! Check it out if you’re in Vegas this week.

If you are reading this, you probably know that Interbike is underway in Las Vegas this week. I started to write a post about it today, but I ran out of steam as soon I got started. That lack of motivation to post has been plaguing me for a while now (it is certainly not for lack of content), so I think that it’s time for me to take a little break from this blog. I am not sure if it will take weeks, or months, or a year, but I’ll resume blogging when I feel like I am ready for it again. Yeah, I know that Bicycle Design might lose readers if I am gone for too long, but honestly, I have never been all that concerned with traffic or metrics. For me, this blog has always been about connecting with those of you who share a passion for bikes, creativity, and design…and I think a longish break is necessary to recapture that (on my end at least).

I mentioned Interbike, because the show reminds me that it has been almost exactly eight years since I quickly set up a blog and hit publish on my very first post.  At that time, I never imagined that this blog would ever reach so many people, or provide an outlet for industrial designers to share their bike related work, or even play a role in generating the level of interest in bike design that we see on the internet today (OK…that last one might be a stretch, but I like to believe it, so don’t burst my bubble). I really never had a plan for this blog at the beginning. It was just something I wanted to try, so I started it on a whim.  Lately though, that excitement that I used to feel about sharing and discussing ideas and concepts has been replaced by a feeling that I NEED to post something every week or so. Instead of serving as a creative outlet and mental break from my work as a product designer, the blog has started to feel a bit like…well…a bit like a job I guess. That’s not what I want from it, which is why I feel the need to walk away (or ride away) for a while.

I have quite a few personal design projects that I have been putting off, so I want to shift some of my attention to those for now. Until I get back to this blog (and the associated social media accounts), you will be able to find me on Twitter at @JCTdesign, on Google +, on Instagram, and a few other places on the web.

I am truly grateful for the incredibly positive experience of writing this blog for the past eight years. I have learned so much from it (more than I can cover here), and I have met some really great people along the way (both online and in person). I really do want to sincerely thank all of you who have contributed, commented, or just read my posts here over the years, and apologize to those of you who have recently submitted design work that I never got a chance to share. OK…that’s enough of this sounding like a goodbye post. I can always share some of those submitted designs when I am back. Not sure when that will be just yet, but I hope you will stay subscribed to find out.


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The 2013 World Human Powered Speed Challenge

Obree's "Beastie". Photo credit http://www.humansinvent.com

Graeme Obree’s “Beastie”.  Photo credit: http://www.humansinvent.com

This week, I have been occasionally checking the results of the 2013 World Human Powered Speed Challenge taking place for the 14th consecutive year on SR305 outside of Battle Mountain, Nevada. This is always a very interesting event to follow, and I am glad that Graeme Obree’s participation is bringing it a bit of extra attention this year. Obree qualified for the WHPSC finals with his run on Monday, but it appears that he spent the next couple days making modifications to his prone position “Beastie” for final runs today and tomorrow. As I have mentioned before, I will be surprised if he is able to exceed the 82.819 mph speed set by Sam Whittingham in 2009, but he also has the British record of 67.4 mph to shoot for as a secondary goal. Whether or not he reaches either goal though, it is exciting to see him attempting the speed record in an unconventional (par for the course for Obree) machine of his own design.  As he said himself on Twitter today, “The fear isn’t not reaching 100mph, the fear is being 90, in a chair, in an old folks’ home, saying ‘I should have gone for that.”  Well said, Graeme…those are words that all of us with grand plans and big ideas should take to heart.

Sergey Dashevskey in “Tetiva”  Photo credit Jun Nogami http://jnyyz.files.wordpress.com/

Though Obree is attracting much of the attention in the cycling press, keep in mind that there are many other designers , engineers, and athletes  at Battle Mountain this week with pretty amazing (and very fast) HPVs. See the links on the event pictures page, including the WHPSC Facebook group and Jim Nogami’s “Biking in a Big City” blog, for excellent coverage of the event. I know that I have been saying this for years, but I really wish I was at Battle Mountain right now to see this in person.  One of these years, I’ll make it out there.

Update 9/16: As pointed out in the comments below, a new world record was set at Battle Mountain this year. Sebastiaan Bowier of the TUDelft team reached 83.13mph in Velox3. Congrats to the team on a great accomplishment! Obree didn’t reach his initial goals, but did manage to set a new prone position record. Hopefully we will see him back again next year to give it another try.


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Canyon Urban Concept Bike

CANYON-Urban-Concep-sidefroEurobike came to a close over the weekend in Friedrichshafen, Germany, and I have seen a few interesting concept bike designs from the show.  One of my favorites is by German brand Canyon, well known for their race oriented roads bikes and the red dot award winning Speedmax time trial machine.  The concept bike that Canyon debuted last week is not geared exclusively toward the racing crowd though. Instead, it is a 2 speed belt drive urban bike with features such as integrated lights, an integrated locking system, mudguards, non slip flat pedals, hydraulic disc brakes, a removable shopping basket, and much more. This is definitely an urban bike with a sporty side though. They point out that “the central challenge was to transfer characteristics such as competitiveness, great design and functionality so typical of the Canyon brand to an urban product range.”

CANYON-Urban-Concept-sideYou can read more about the Canyon urban concept on the Eurobike 2013 section of their website.  With this post though, I just want to spotlight a few of the features that initially interested me when I saw the design.

canyon-urban-cockpitIntegrated front and rear LED lights are a detail that we are seeing more and more often on transportation focused bike concepts. In this case, I like the way that the front light is an extension of the stem/handlebar assembly, which in turn is nicely integrated into the shape of the frame (similar to a LOOK 675 or similar frame design). The rear lights are found in the seatpost clamp, and according to Canyon, power to both is supplied by a plugless SON hub dynamo, which transfers power via the fork drop-outs.”

CANYON-Urban-Concept-basketThe click-in removable front basket is another nice feature.  It looks good on the bike, and when removed can be used as a shopping basket, complete with a handle, as shown in the illustration below.  If this bike were to become a real product, I would imagine that different sized accessory baskets and platforms could be offered to mate with the frame.

canyon-basketA big part of this concept bike is the anti-theft device, which is more than just a lock. Though a locking mechanism is built into the frame at the seat tube junction, the full solution is based on an infrastructure based concept (Canyon notes that this concept is “all about sounding out possibilities and ideas with the involvement of local councils and communities.”). In order for the locking system to work, chains or cables would need to be part of the urban infrastructure. They envision that “local councils can provide locking systems on road signs and lamp posts, businesses and restaurants can provide further bike stands for their customers, employers for their employees and every individual at home for his bike.”

canyon-urban-lockingBeyond the lock idea, there is a QR code on the frame that allows for online registration and identification. Unless the QR pattern is removed, it can be easily checked with a Smartphone so that a prospective buyer could determine if the bike is stolen. There are not many details on that system at this point, but it seems like a good starting point for a registration system at least…somewhat similar to Cyclingboom and other like systems.  In the event that the locking and online registration systems both fail, Canyon would offer a reduced replacement price for unrecoverable stolen bikes.

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Now that the initial presentation at Eurobike is over, Canyon wants to “share and discuss the concept with as many people as possible.” Leave a comment, and let let them know what you think of the design… and the idea of linking it to new infrastructure projects in local communities.

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Bike sketches from 5 different designers

I didn’t get a chance to post anything last week, and this week is shaping up to be just as busy. Quickly though, I want to share a few sketches, created by five different designers, that caught my attention lately.  Concept sketching is my favorite part of every new project (good because I have been doing a LOT of it lately), so I am always interested in seeing the different sketching styles of other designers.

ilya-vostrikov-specialized-ttI am a fan of Ilya Vostrikov’s rendering style and the loose form studies that he creates, so it is no surprise that I have shared his work several times in the past. His latest is this sketch for a Specialized time trial concept bike.  He posts new work pretty often, so follow his blog to see more.

Andre-Fangueiro-bike-sketchAndre Fangueiro is an Industrial Designer at Giant Bicycles. He has some interesting work on his personal website, including the urban bike shown above.

Ian-Galvin-Grace-ebike-sketchesIan Galvin collaborated with with Karl Nicolai of NICOLAI GMBH on the redesign of the Grace e-bike model.  You can see one of his sketch pages above, and check out his Behance page to see more of the project.

Casey-Emmons-Prius-bike-sketchesAlso on Behance, you can find Casey Emmon’s page for the Prius X Parlee concept bike project. You may remember that the bike got a lot of attention a couple years ago, but I hadn’t seen any of the initial sketches until now.

Tymothe-Auberson-bike-sketchesFinally, take a look at Tymothé Auberson’s  “Scott Square” concept bike for young urban workers. The multipurpose bike, or MPB as he refers to it, can be used in several different configurations depending which module is inserted into the main section of the frame. You can see a bit more of Tymothé’s work below, but check out his project page for many more sketches and renderings, as well as an explanation of his idea.
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